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This document is from the archive of the Africa Policy E-Journal, published
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Nigeria: Updates and Background, 1
Nigeria: Updates and Background, 1
Date distributed (ymd): 020107
Document reposted by Africa Action
Africa Policy Electronic Distribution List: an information
service provided by AFRICA ACTION (incorporating the Africa
Policy Information Center, The Africa Fund, and the American
Committee on Africa). Find more information for action for
Africa at http://www.africaaction.org
Region: West Africa
Issue Areas: +political/rights+ +economy/development+
This posting contains several excerpts from Nigerian press reports
and other sources related to current political developments in
Nigeria, as the country enters the final year before national
elections scheduled for February, 2003. The excerpts include (1)
several items related to the Dec. 23 assassination of Attorney
General Bola Ige, a widely respected and outspoken 71-year lawyer,
former state governor, and close friend of President Olusegun
Obasanjo who has served as a key link between the federal
government and civil society, particularly in Ige's home
southwestern region; (2) a brief description of the September 2001
National Workshop on Constitutional Reform, sponsored by the
Citizens' Forum for Constitutional Reform and International IDEA,
held in September, 2001, and (3) several additional links.
A related posting also sent out today contains, as background,
brief excerpts from the introduction and synthesis of the November
2000 report from the International Institute for Democracy and
Electoral Assistance (International IDEA) on Democracy in Nigeria.
Note: the following are brief excerpts only from the articles. For
full text see the URL for each article. For much additional
coverage see http://allafrica.com/nigeria
Bola Ige Shot Dead
This Day (Lagos) December 24, 2001
By Kunle Akogun, Oma Djebah
Lagos And Osogbo
Federal Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, Chief Bola Ige
was last night shot dead in his bedroom at his Bodija, Ibadan
residence in an apparent assassination.
It was gathered that the gun men shot the Cicero of Esa Oke at
about 9.00 pm with a single bullet to his heart. He had returned
from Lagos at about 8.30pm, family sources told THISDAY and asked
his security men to go and have their dinner as he retired
The gunmen who may have been waiting in the vicinity then stormed
the house and tying up family members, got one of them to lead them
uptstairs to the room of Chief Bola Ige where they led his wife and
son to an adjourning room and locked them up.
The gunmen then met Ige alone in the bedroom and shot him with a
single bullet in the heart, family sources said.
He was then left on the floor as the gunmen made their way out
without stealing anything. However when one of the granddaughters
raised an alarm, family members rushed to his room and then rushed
him to the hospital. He died on his way to the Oluyoro Catholic
Hospital, Ibadan. ...
His attack may not be unconnected with his unwavering support for
the Osun State governor, Chief Bisi Akande, who is locked in a
battle of wits with his deputy, Iyiola Omisore, an Ife indigene.
The Akande-Omisore imbroglio has recently taken a new twist
following attempts to commence impeachment proceedings against
Omisore at the State House of Assembly. ...
This led to fracas on the floor of the House with many of the
lawmakers getting bruised.
And last Wednesday, a prominent member of the House representing
Ife Central Local Government area was matchetted to death by people
believed to be political thugs.
The legislator, Hon. Odunayo Olagbaju, was said to have been
accosted by a group of young men who beat and dealt several cuts
on him. It was gathered that the late lawmaker ran into the
assassins who had apparently laid ambush for him at the scene of
the incident when he was returning home.
From Where Have These Beasts Strayed Without Tether?
This Day (Lagos) EDITORIAL December 28, 2001
It is hard to believe that Chief Bola Ige, the owner of wits and
the Cicero of Nigerian politics, is gone. His brutal murder Sunday
night will definitely cause a shift in our local politics in the
times ahead. So much has been said about the road to 2003 being
pregnant with dark portents. But if this be a fore-taste, then it's
The man undeniably embodied so many things about our politics. The
way and manner these beasts chose to abbreviate his life is a clear
antithesis of the cause of peace and progress to which he was
fanatically devoted all his life. ...
It is correct to say that people of my generation grew up to the
Ige mystique. We inherited fables of how, with a force of mere
tongue, he once floored Chief Richard Akinjide during a live
television debate in 1979. Then, Ige was the governorship candidate
of Unity Party of Nigeria in Oyo state while Akinjide stood on the
platform of National Party of Nigeria. ...
Now, while featuring on the television programme that day, Akinjide
sought to belittle that legacy [of free education] by saying on air
that the so-called free education policy largely bred vagabonds and
idiots. Characteristically, Ige thereafter established that
relations of Akinjide benefitted from that programme and,
therefore, challenged him to list those in his (Akinjide's) family
who were the nonentities. Cornered, Akinjide stood up and walked
out on the television camera. Voters chose Ige on the election day.
Ige certainly did not belong to the category of politicians who
needed to spend money to win election. In his native South-West,
elections are often won on your own personal integrity based on the
perception of your past and not the bribe you offer people on the
streets. In fact, some accounts have it that Ige had cause to
lampoon one of the leaders of Alliance for Democracy in Edo state
after the elections in 1999. While reviewing AD performance in Edo
that year, Ige was said to have remarked in one of those their
caucus meetings that "Can you imagine he (the said party leader)
failed to deliever Edo in spite of the quarter of a million naira
we gave him."
Elsewhere, such expectation that N250,000 could win a state
election would have elicited dismissive laughter. But this clearly
showed the tradition from which Ige came. It showed that Ige
believed that personal integrity more than money should be the
factor that wins election.
This is why I think Ige is an irreparable loss. That loss would be
particularly felt in the South-West where he was evidently a folk
hero. He was a true defender of the interest of his people. He had
what not many had: charisma. At this juncture, saying nice things
about him would not be enough. The Federal Government must bring
the perpetrators of this dastardly act to book and soonest. As the
local saying goes, these are beasts that have strayed from the wild
forest into the community without tether around their necks. They
need to be tamed. They need to be punished for that monumental act
of wickedness. I share the opinion of those who say that in seeking
these beasts, the dragnet should not be restricted to the anarchic
political jungle which Osun State has turned in the last few weeks.
Ige was a player that was bigger than Osun. Care should be taken to
extend the search to other possibilities: be it business, social
and even inside government. For, in his glorious run, the Cicero
certainly stepped on many toes.
The killers must be found.
Tribute: We The Children of Ige
This Day (Lagos) OPINION December 31, 2001
As Second Republic Governor of old Oyo State, Chief Ajibola Ige,
who was felled last week by assasin's bullet, was father to
hundreds of thousand of school children whom he gave free
education. Waheed Odusile, one of the beneficiaries, pays this
tribute to the late politician
As a 15 year old high school boy then in Form 4 or what is today
known as SSS 2, in Ibadan, Oyo State, I had no idea what free
education was like and would likely be in the new dispensation we
were being promised then. Even when the governorship candidate of
the Unity Party of Nigeria (UPN) in the 1979 general elections in
the state, Uncle Bola Ige was promising free education, free
health, integrated rural development and full and gainfull
empolyment for all (the four cardinal programmes of the UPN) during
his electioneering campaigns, I still didn't know what it meant
other than the fact that my parents might not have to pay my school
fees again should the UPN win the election. ...
Even when a now victorious Bola Ige declared at his swearing-in on
1st October, 1979 at the Liberty Stadium in Ibadan that "as from
today education is free at all levels in Oyo State" the import of
the statement had still not sunk properly. It was not until I got
to school the new session and was handed texbooks, exercise books
and other stationeries courtesy of the Oyo State government that it
finally dawned on me that truly, education is free in the state and
my parents won't have to pay my school fees again. What a big
relief. With the abolition of school fees, students/pupils were
able to feed well and adequately clothed, as parents had enough
money to give them.
I wasn't the only one that was happy. Many, if not all my school
mates were. Since our parents could not afford to send us to
private schools like the children of the privileged few, we had to
contend with jostling for few places available in public schools
and even then, the fees were a bit high, such that our parents had
to struggle to meet up. ...
Expectedly, the success of the free education programme did not go
down well with the opposition in the state, particularly the NPN,
which derided it, saying it was leading to a fall in the quality of
education. ... the school children of that era were being
derisively referred to as Ige's children. We were being described
as students with half education and were expected not to do well in
society in future. But almost twenty years after, many of us,if not
all, are successful in life, thanks to Ige's free education
The best the youths who benefitted from Ige could do for him and
his memory is to keep faith with the ideals for which he fought for
throughout in his life time. A defender of justice and dignity of
man, Ige,like his late leader Chief Obafemi Awolowo was first and
foremost a Yorubaman who believed in one Nigeria, A trully federal
Nigeria where all the federating units are allowed to develop at
their own pace and regulate their affairs accordingly, only ceeding
little powers to the federal government.
Granted the fact that he might have been ascerbic with his toungue,
this was within the context of his belief in and ability to always
call a spade a spade. ...
A nationalist to the core, Ige knew when it was time for national
service as he put personal consideration aside to take up
appointment under President Olusegun Obasanjo, first as Mines and
Power Minister and later Attorney General and Minister of Justice,
to the consternation of some of his allies and comrades in
Perhaps knowing fully well that the future of Yoruba politics lie
in inclusiveness and integration, Bola Ige tried to broaden Yoruba
appeal to other ethnic nationalities in the country without
jeopardising the interest of his people. Among his Yoruba people,
he tried to bring the youths into leadership and decision making.
Though an old man, Ige was able to accommodate the youths and their
exuberance and at the same time enjoyed the confidendence of the
elders. He was the unofficial link between the old and the young in
Yorubaland, one whom the youths could trust and open their hearts
to and in whom also the elders could confide.
As we mourn this great son of Oduduwa,it would be a great disaster
for the Yoruba nation if his killers were fellow Yorubas and most
disappointingly, a member of the younger generation for whom he
laboured to empower.
Nigeria National Workshop on Constitutional Reform
[Brief excerpts; more available in Word document format on IDEA
See also Citizen's Forum for Constitutional Reform
For further information contact:
International IDEA's temporary office in Lagos, Nigeria
37, Kofo Abayomi,
Victoria Island, flat nr. 7
Tel: +234-1-262 4974 (also for faxes)
International IDEA, Stromsborg, 103 34 Stockholm, Sweden
Margot Gould Tel: +46 8 6983723 Fax: +46 8 202422
A workshop on constitutional reform was held in Abuja, Nigeria,
25-28 September, organized by International IDEA in partnership
with the Citizens' Forum for Constitutional Reform (CFCR). Around
100 participants representing a wide variety of NGOs and key
government decision-makers drawn from each of the 6 Zones
(regions) of Nigeria, as well as international experts from
regions such as Asia and Southern Africa, attended the workshop.
Among the participants were Minister for Justice and
Attorney-General Chief Bola Ige, Minister Gerry Gana and
Independent National Election Commission (INEC) Chairman Dr Abel
The workshop was an outcome of International IDEA's Assessment
Report Democracy in Nigeria: Continuing Dialogue(s) for
Nation-Building, which identified constitutional reform as the key
issue in the country's democratization agenda. A report will be
produced summarising the key constitutional reforms proposed in
the workshop and outlining the broader debates on issues of
Constitutional reform is widely understood to be the critical
first step to democratization. Over the years Nigeria has had a
series of failed constitutions, and the current one was imposed by
the previous military regime. In this context the workshop aims to
begin a process of focused discussions on constitutional reform
itself, with the ultimate goal of helping to achieve ownership and
thus legitimacy for the constitution. ...
The 1999 constitution and review process in Nigeria
With the 1999 transition from a military to a civilian government,
Nigerians have intensified their quest for a constitutional
democracy and constitutionalism. The nature of the transition
itself and the process, through which the current constitution
emerged, meant that the constitution had little input from the
populace. Unveiled literally on the eve of the hand-over from
military to civilian government, the 1999 Constitution has been
dogged by criticism and a crisis of legitimacy. This crisis has
been articulated both in terms of its content and also in relation
to the process that led to its emergence.
'A gift from the military' is how incumbent President Olusegun
Obasanjo described the 1999 Constitution when inaugurating the
Presidential Constitutional Review Committee. In this President
Obasanjo was responding to the national consensus that held that
the 1999 Constitution needs to be reviewed.
In the last two years, the 1999 Constitution has been under review
and the recommendations of the Presidential Technical Committee
are now being debated throughout the country.
At the same time the National Assembly inaugurated its own
committee, arguing that constitutional review is in fact the
responsibility of the National Assembly. The National Assembly's
constitutional review process is still continuing, with the
committee visiting various states across the country.
The two processes, although independent, need not in fact be
contradictory. In the final analysis, the legislature will have to
address the promulgation of the reviewed constitution.
There is a wide consensus across the country that the 1999
Constitution should be reviewed, and there has been a very dynamic
debate on its content. Nigerians have made submissions to both the
Presidential Technical Committee on the Review of the 1999
Constitution and also to the National Assembly Committee on the
Review of the 1999 Constitution.
In spite of this, calls for a participatory constitution-making
process and a national dialogue have intensified.
The National Dialogue: Building a Constitutional Contract between
the Citizens and the State
Following the debate across the country, it is evident that there
is a wide and sufficient consensus on the ongoing review of the
1999 Constitution. Similarly, there is a wide consensus that
significant strides have been made by the incumbent government to
address constitutional review and its efforts to subject the
debate to public participation and scrutiny.
However, there is a persistent call for a national dialogue that is
linked to the constitutional debate. One of the issues that has
emerged very strongly in the debate is that despite its many
efforts at constitution-making in the past, these have largely been
the preserve of 'hand picked' committees of 'wise men' (and few
Essentially, the call for participatory constitution-making
addresses the need to legitimize the process and ensure that
citizens is an integral part of the debate. Following such a
turbulent history of militarism, and continuing and controversial
constitutional debates and processes, Nigerians argue that the
constitution-making process can also be an opportunity for the
consolidation of the national project.
Today, there is a consensus that there should be a national
dialogue. Throughout the zonal and thematic workshops that were
conducted by International IDEA and the Steering Committee of the
Nigerian Contact Group between June and August 2001, the call for
National Dialogue was reaffirmed. The workshops included
government officials, legislators, civil society organizations,
religious and spiritual leaders from diverse political, cultural,
religious and ideological backgrounds.
For its part, the government has also started processes of
consultations on the mechanisms and modalities of a National
Conference. The presidency has called on opinion makers to consult
and present proposals on how such a national dialogue can be
organized and conducted. ...
Democracy in Nigeria: Continuing the Dialogues,
Report of the Zonal Workshops, June-August 2001
Additional Recent Links
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Nigeria: Call for New Debt Deal
Jos: A City Torn Apart (Human Rights Watch, December, 2001)
Journalists Against AIDS (JAAIDS) Nigeria
Controversy over Electoral Law (The Vanguard, Jan. 4, 2002)
Fuel Prices Hike (This Day, Jan. 7, 2002)
This material is being reposted for wider distribution by
Africa Action (incorporating the Africa Policy Information
Center, The Africa Fund, and the American Committee on Africa).
Africa Action's information services provide accessible
information and analysis in order to promote U.S. and
international policies toward Africa that advance economic,
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